The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is seeking public input on fishing ideas for 2009.
The number of Utah chubs in Scofield Reservoir is growing. And so is the number of burbot and walleye that were placed illegally in two other Utah waters.
To address those and other concerns, DWR biologists are recommending several fishing changes for Utah's 2009 season.
All of the DWR's 2009 fishing proposals are posted at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
Once reviewed, individuals can respond with their ideas in one of two ways:
Attend one of the five Regional Advisory Council meetings that will be held across Utah. Citizens representing the RACs will take the input received at the meetings to the Utah Wildlife Board. Board members will use the input to set rules for Utah's 2009 fishing season.
The meetings will be:
• Sept. 9 Southern Region, 7 p.m., at Beaver High School, 195 E. Center, Beaver.
• Sept. 10 Southeastern Region, 6:30 p.m., John Wesley Powell Museum, 1765 E. Main, Green River.
• Sept. 11 Northeastern Region, 6:30 p.m., Western Park, Room 2, 302 E.. 200 South, Vernal.
• Sept. 16 Central Region. 6:30 p.m., Springville Junior High School, 165 S. 700 East, Springville.
• Sept. 17 Northern Region, 6 p.m., Brigham City Community Center, 24 N. 300 West, Brigham City.
Or they can also provide comments by e-mail: wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
Biologists report the Utah chub population in Scofield Reservoir has increased dramatically during the past two years. To try and control the population before it gets too large, biologists are recommending the following:
• Stocking Bear Lake cutthroat trout in the reservoir. Putting Bear Lake cutthroats in the reservoir would give it two "chub eaters" the Bear Lake cutthroat trout and tiger trout that are in the reservoir now. Bear Lake cutthroat have a proven track record in controlling chubs. DWR biologists report that action must be taken immediately to control the chubs.
• Keeping plenty of large predatory Bear Lake cutthroats and tiger trout in the reservoir by lowering the trout limit to four. In the four-trout limit, anglers could have one cutthroat or tiger trout under 15 inches in length and one cutthroat or tiger trout over 22 inches. All cutthroat and tiger trout between 15 and 22 inches long would have to be released.
"We put Bear Lake cutthroats in Strawberry Reservoir after we treated the reservoir in 1990. The cutthroats in Strawberry have been protected by a limit that's similar to the one we're proposing for Scofield," said Roger Wilson, coldwater sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR.
"The cutthroats have kept the chub populations in Strawberry in check. ... We hope they'll do the same thing in Scofield."
Biologists are anxious to see which of the two trout is the most effective predator Bear Lake cutthroat or the tiger trout.
"The information we gain will help us control chub populations better in other areas of the state," Wilson said.
Illegal fish introductions could greatly affect fishing at two popular waters in northeastern Utah.
Someone illegally placed burbot in a drainage above Flaming Gorge Reservoir several years ago. Now the burbot have made their way into the reservoir. Then just last spring, walleye that were illegally placed in Red Fleet Reservoir started showing up in biologists' gillnets in big numbers.
To deal with these illegal introductions:
• Anglers would be required to keep and kill all the walleyes they caught at Red Fleet Reservoir.
• Anglers at Flaming Gorge Reservoir must already kill every burbot they catch. Starting in 2009, anglers could also use up to six poles to fish through the ice at the reservoir. A second pole permit would not be required when fishing through the ice. However, a second pole permit would be required to fish with more than one pole at Flaming Gorge when the water is open, including when the water is open in the winter.
Wilson said the ice-fishing season is the best time of year to catch burbot at the reservoir.
"They're not an attractive fish, but burbot are a great fish to eat," he says. "This proposal would give anglers a chance to help the fishery and take more burbot home to eat."
Also at Flaming Gorge, spear fishermen could underwater spearfish for burbot 24 hours a day, throughout the year. They could also use artificial lights, but only when pursuing burbot. These underwater spearfishing changes should result in additional burbot being taken.
A change at Panguitch Lake would allow anglers to keep fish they must currently release.
The limit at the lake would stay at four trout, but anglers would be allowed to keep one cutthroat or tiger trout between 15 and 22 inches long.
"Cutthroat and tiger trout start eating chubs when they reach about 17 inches in length. By the time they reach 20 inches, they're excellent predators," Wilson added.
"We removed all of the chubs in the reservoir in 2006. Even if we allow anglers to keep one cutthroat or tiger trout between 15 and 22 inches long, we think there will still be enough of them in the reservoir to keep the reservoir's chub population in check."
Wilson added the growth of the larger rainbows in the reservoir appears to be stalling at about 20 inches in length. Allowing anglers to take some fish in the 15- to 22-inch range will provide more food for the remaining fish, and that should result in more fish growing longer than 20 inches.
Anglers would not be allowed to keep tiger muskies at Newton Reservoir under another DWR proposal.
Tiger muskies are a cross between northern pike and muskellunge. Anglers commonly refer to muskellunge as "muskies."
Earlier this year, the DWR had to close Pineview Reservoir to the possession of tiger muskies. The closure will help ensure plenty of tiger muskies remain in the reservoir until a disease-free population of muskies can be found to breed with northern pike in Recapture Reservoir.
Now the biologists would also like to add Newton to the closure list.
"We're fairly confident that we have found some muskies that are disease-free," said Drew Cushing, warm water sport fisheries coordinator for the DWR. "We'll know for sure by mid-September. If the muskies are disease-free, we'll bring them to Utah and start raising our own muskies at a new hatchery in Salt Lake City. Then we'll breed them with the northern pike at Recapture Reservoir.
"Potentially, we could be stocking tiger muskies again in two to three years," Cushing said. "In the meantime, the closure at Pineview, and the one we're proposing for Newton, would keep plenty of big tiger muskies in those waters for anglers to catch and release."